Thumbprint in the Clay: Divine Marks of Beauty, Order and Grace, By Luci Shaw

Thumbprint in the Clay

Divine Marks of Beauty, Order and Grace

by Luci Shaw

Thumbprint in the Clay
  • Length: 205 pages
  • Dimensions: 5 × 7 in
  • Published: February 16, 2016
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4457
  • ISBN: 9780830844579

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"The thumbprint . . . is for me a singular clue to human identity. . . . Just as each human thumbprint is unique, its pattern inscribed on the work of our hands and minds, the Creator's is even more so—the original thumbprints on the universe," declares poet Luci Shaw.

We worship an endlessly creative God whose thumbprints are reflected everywhere we look—in sunsets, mountains, ocean waves—and in the invisible rhythms that shape our lives, such as the movement of planets around the sun. And this creative and ever-creating God has also left indelible thumbprints on us.

We reflect God's imprint most clearly, perhaps, in our own creating and appreciation for beauty. A longing for beauty is inherent to being human. We don't create things that are purely practical; we desire them to be aesthetically pleasing as well. Beauty is also powerful, in its redemptiveness, generosity, inspiration. In reflecting on the role of beauty in our lives, Luci Shaw writes, "Beauty is Love taking form in human lives and the works of their hands."

So come, join Luci Shaw as she ponders through the beauty of poetry and prose the places, sometimes unexpected, where she encounters God's fingerprints, and let it help you learn to see them in your life as well.

"Luci Shaw has spent a writing lifetime finding thumbprints in every square inch of creation and then pressing down more than a few for us to discover on our own. The glory of the prints she explores in this new collection of essays and occasional poems is attributable to the hand of the Creator. But what Luci does in Thumbprint in the Clay is what she always has done for the rest of us: she teaches us to see."

James Calvin Schaap, author of Reading Mother Teresa and Romey's Place

"What a delight when someone has something really good to say, and then says it with such style and grace. Such is Luci Shaw! She sees and describes the divine thumbprints well."

Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation

"Luci Shaw is a friend, seasoned soul and wise 'lady of letters' who writes 'from the edge of the known world.' Her inspired, enlightened, well-crafted essays guide us toward recognizing the marks of the maker in everyday life as she illustrates on each page how to take 'a long, loving look at the real' and find God there."

Dick Staub, author, broadcaster and founder of The Kindlings

"Luci Shaw is a treasure, and Thumbprint in the Clay shows us yet again precisely why: this book is wise beyond measure, the writing beautiful beyond compare, and its heart a reflection of the one true God. We see the evidence of Christ everywhere around us, and yet we seem determined at times to overlook his proof. This meditation allows us to pause, ponder and bring close to our hearts the fact of God's design, his love and his purpose for our own lives. This is a beautiful, ruminative and necessary book."

Bret Lott, director, MFA in writing, The College of Charleston, author of Letters and Life

"Luci has thrown clay upon a wheel yet once more and fashioned it into a delightful vessel filled with my favorite drink: the ambrosia of art, faith and creativity. Yes, I am besotted, but who can turn away from the poetry of a life lived so beautifully in service to God?"

Leslie Leyland Fields, author of Surviving the Island of Grace

"What a joy it is to see life again through Luci Shaw's artistic vision. Thumbprint in the Clay is marked by the particular beauty of her ingenuity—wisdom kilned into her through years of fully engaged living, poetry that flows forth from her creative magnanimity, and her attuned, sensuous awareness of hints of the Creator's presence in every nook, niche, name and soul that kneels before the Holy. Shaw invites us into the God-imprinted adventure of incarnate life, not a 'narrow destination.' Illuminated by this book, we see that the imprinted life is an experience of penetrating mystery and indelible grace."

Susan S. Phillips, New College Berkeley, author of Candlelight and The Cultivated Life

"By the light shed by this book, we are better able to see our own God-imprinted lives as they're marked by penetrating mystery and indelible grace. Turn the page and engage the adventure!"

Susan S. Phillips, Radix, Vol. 39, No. 2

"Halfway through Thumbprint in the Clay, I wasn't sure what I was reading. I only knew I wanted to absorb this writerly book with its lyric descriptions that awaken wonder. . . . You know she means it when she writes: 'I long for you to share my wonder and respond. I can point it out to you and believe that you will see it, too.' Shaw seeks a 'theory of everything' that includes Christian faith. She beckons the curious reader to dream awhile, drink deeply, and see the story we each inhabit as sacred."

Alice Camille, St. Anthony Messenger, June 2016

"Shaw's practical book is inspiring and will give readers encouragement. Highly recommended."

CBA Retailers+Resources, April 16, 2016

"The value of this book is the mindfulness that it creates for the reader. In a modern world of rush and hurry, it is good to read something that slows down the pace and helps one to ‘stop and smell the roses,' to ponder the beauty of creation. Those who believe in God as their Maker would no doubt appreciate Thumbprint in the Clay as a fresh reminder of divine beauty in nature. However, Shaw gives testimony of her Creator in such a poetic way that it might also capture the attention of a non-believer. It might at least cause them to consider the possibility of a Designer that has placed His 'thumbprint' on us all."

Zelda Meneses-Reus, The Artistic Theologian, Vol. 6, 2018

"Luci Shaw presents a wonderful meditation on how beauty arises from our interaction with nature as an act of divine creation and our own acts of creativity as God’s image-bearers, both by true acts of love. In fact, this work itself is a work of love and a creative engagement in the nature of beauty and a further demonstration of Shaw’s skill as a poet of God’s creation."

James M. Turner, Calvin, April 2018


1. Coffee Mugs
2. The Faces of the Earth
3. Beauty, Its Shapes and Signs
4. The Markings of Grace
5. Determining Identity
6. Indelible Impressions
7. Seals of Authenticity
8. Remarking, Remaking
9. Scars and Stains
10. Marked for Suffering: Job and Jacob
11. A Sad, Smeared Print
12. God-Printed People
List of Poems


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Luci Shaw

Luci Shaw is a poet, an editor, a retreat leader, a lecturer, and the author of forty books, including Thumbprint in the Clay, The Adventure of Ascent, and The Genesis of It All. Luci and her husband live in Bellingham, Washington, where she enjoys sailing, tent camping, knitting, gardening, and wilderness photography.